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Ikea ponders the future of retail with virtual reality pilot app

TechCrunch TechCrunch 5/04/2016 Lucas Matney

Ikea is coming to VR, but it’s sadly leaving the Swedish meatballs behind in regular reality.

The cheapo furniture company unexpectedly announced this morning that they were releasing a pilot experience for the HTC Vive on the SteamVR store.

Gameplay in the app is limited to wandering a kitchen and changing the color of the cabinets so it’s not exactly earth-shattering, but it’s very cool to see Ikea wanting to get in on the ground floor of this technology.

VR has huge implications for retail, especially in preparing companies for the game-changing potential of augmented reality technologies, which will undoubtedly shape the space significantly.

“Virtual reality is developing quickly and in five to ten years it will be an integrated part of people’s lives. We see that virtual reality will play a major role in the future of our customers. For instance, someday, it could be used to enable customers to try out a variety of home furnishing solutions before buying them,” said Jesper Brodin, the managing director at IKEA of Sweden in a statement.

What’s cool about the potential for this app is that the Vive can theoretically pretty easily get accustomed to the size of the room it’s tracking so in the future this app could be a great way to see if items fit in your actual room without you having to bust out the measuring tape.

While we’re likely a ways away from wandering the halls of Ikea for hours in VR, retail companies are just getting started in terms of toying with what this new computing platform can bring to their industry and their customers.

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